When it comes to running a successful business, planning is key. But how do you make sure your plans are effective and achievable?
That’s where tactical business planning comes in. Tactical planning focuses on the “how” of getting things done. It’s the difference between having an idea and making it happen.
Let’s take a look at what tactical business planning is, why it matters, and how to use it to improve your business outcomes.
What’s the Difference Between Strategy and Tactics?
Have you ever heard someone talk about strategy or tactics in business, and wondered what the difference was?
It is actually simpler than it might sound:
In a nutshell, strategy refers to your big-picture plan, while tactics are more focused on your day-to-day implementation of that plan.
Let’s take a look at each of these concepts and how they work together.
Strategy: The Big Picture
A strategy is an overarching plan that guides your decisions and helps you achieve your goals.
It is created by looking at your current situation, evaluating the potential outcomes, and determining how best to achieve your desired results.
Strategy should be based on data and research, as well as an understanding of past successes and failures. A good strategy will set out specific objectives, identify key stakeholders, outline potential risks, and provide an actionable timeline for success.
Tactics: The Nitty Gritty Implementation
Tactics are the ways you go about executing your strategy. They are specific actions taken to achieve desired results.
Tactics can include anything from developing marketing materials to launching a new product or service. A tactic could be a specific way your team sells your product, or a certain method you've created to support your customers, or even a growth hack you use to grow your business.
Tactics should always be tailored to meet the needs of your business as well as those of your customers or clients. When creating or implementing tactics it's important to consider the impact on both your short-term goals (such as increasing sales) and your long-term goals (such as building brand awareness).
Tactical plans should also include measurable metrics so that progress can be tracked over time.
Strategic vs. Tactical Planning?
When it comes to planning, there are two main approaches — strategic planning and tactical planning.
Both involve setting goals, assessing progress, and making decisions that will help you reach those goals.
But what exactly is the difference between these two types of plans, and how can understanding their differences help you make better decisions for your business?
Let's take a closer look.
What Is Strategic Planning?
At its core, strategic planning involves looking at the big picture.
This type of planning focuses on long-term objectives and goals, taking into account any external factors that could impact your progress.
A key part of strategic planning is considering which strategies could be implemented in order to achieve your "big picture" goals, and which factors might influence the success or failure of those strategies.
For example, when creating a strategic plan for your business you might consider factors like market trends, potential growth opportunities, and the competitive landscape, in order to determine which actions should be taken in order to reach your desired outcome.
What Is Tactical Planning?
Tactical planning is focused more on short-term objectives than long-term ones.
A tactical plan looks at specific tasks that can be completed in order to achieve a goal or objective within a certain time frame, and it focuses on utilizing resources efficiently in order to complete those tasks successfully.
For example, if you wanted to launch a marketing campaign for your business within the next month, your tactical plan might involve creating an actionable timeline with steps such as researching target markets, creating content assets for the campaign, and budgeting for your project, in order to ensure everything is completed before the desired deadline.
What is Tactical Planning in Business?
Tactical planning in business involves developing an actionable plan using available resources, while at the same time attempting to minimize the risk levels associated with the different options.
Let's break that down.
A tactical plan starts by identifying measurable goals or objectives related to specific outcomes (such as increasing revenue or improving productivity).
Then, one develops the steps required to reach those objectives within a predefined time frame. A tactical objective is usually something achievable within a short period of time, say 1–6 months.
When building a tactical plan for your business it's important to take into consideration any potential obstacles or roadblocks that might get in the way. By predicting challenges and coming up with solutions for overcoming them, continual progress can be made towards completion of the goals set out in your tactical plan.
It's also important to establish performance measures so that progress can be tracked over time in order to determine if key objectives are being met.
Why Does Tactical Planning in Business Matter?
Tactical planning is an essential tool for businesses and organizations wanting to succeed (which most certainly is all of them).
Without a comprehensive plan of action, well-defined goals, clear strategies and a focus on implementation, it becomes difficult to accomplish anything worthwhile, and many organizations fall into the habit of foregoing tactical planning.
Tactical planning forces managers to regularly assess their operations — making sure they don't become complacent while also encouraging them to be creative in finding new opportunities. It also helps with decision making and aligning to future objectives.
All this promotes growth and progress, helping organizations reach their full potential as efficiently as possible. It's easy to see why tactical planning matters!
How to Build a Tactical Plan
As they say, "failing to plan is planning to fail."
And it's true — you can't hope to reach your goals without having a plan in place.
Whether it's for personal or professional reasons, there are some core steps you should always keep in mind when creating a tactical plan.
Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Objectives
The first step when creating a tactical plan is to identify your goals and objectives.
This includes both short and long term goals, as well as measurable milestones that indicate progress along the way.
It's important to be realistic when setting your goals — if they are too ambitious, you may end up burning yourself out before you even get started! Instead, break down the larger goal into smaller, achievable tasks that can be completed over time.
Step 2: Assess Your Resources and Capabilities
Once you have identified your goals, take an honest look at your resources and capabilities. Do you have enough time? Money? Knowledge? Skills?
If not, consider how you can act on those resources and capabilities in order to make progress towards your goal. Also consider any external factors that could affect the outcome of your plan, like for example, if there is new legislation coming into effect that could impact the success of your project.
Step 3: Create an Action Plan
Now it's time to start putting together an action plan.
This includes outlining what tasks need to be done in order to achieve each goal or milestone within the timeline set out in the previous steps.
Make sure each task in your tactical action plan is detailed with specific deadlines and assigned roles so everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by. It's also important to include contingency plans in case something goes wrong along the way; this will ensure that any disruptions are minimized as much as possible.
Step 4: Monitor Progress and Adjust As Necessary
As with any project, monitoring progress is key if you want it to succeed.
Be sure to regularly check in with team members and adjust plans as needed. This will help ensure that everything stays on track and no one gets left behind or overwhelmed due to lack of direction or guidance from leadership.
Step 5: Celebrate Successes!
Once all of your hard work has paid off and all of the planned tasks have been completed successfully, don’t forget to take some time to celebrate your successes!
Whether it’s sending an email thanking everyone involved, or inviting your team to a celebratory dinner, taking some time out from all the hard work is essential for staying motivated.
Executing a successful tactical plan isn't easy. It takes coordination, communication, and commitment from all parties involved in order for it to work properly.
But if done correctly, tactical planning can yield amazing results for your business.
By following the steps of defining your strategic goals, identifying tactics, and then executing the plan, you'll have everything you need to succeed.